A survey to strive for revision - update 2020/Germany
In Germany, dietitians are a state regulated profession. Thus, governmental influence ensures patient safety as the content of education is regulated by federal Dietitian law. Like in many other countries around the globe, the professional requirements have changed because of an increasing number of multimorbid patients, the complexity of diseases and therapy and the increasing focus on evidence-based and interprofessional approaches. In addition, the focus from nutrition therapy has been expanded to include prevention as well as health promotion. Despite these massive changes in the health system and patients care the German dietitian law has not been changed since 1994.
In 2019 the Federal Ministry of Health announced the revision of the Professional laws of the so called “therapeutic health professions” which includes the professional laws of the physiotherapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists and dietitians. Beside the revision of the content of education of these professions, other aspects such as reserved professional actions are announced to be regulated.
To support these planned changes in the Dietitian law and to provide the Federal Ministry of Health with current data reflecting the demands and needs of the dietetic work force in Germany the German Association of Dietitians (VDD) conducted a survey in February 2020. Aim of the survey was to describe the work fields and professional actions of dietitians in Germany. About 1250 dietitians answered the online questionnaire about type and quantity of professional activities, working conditions and type of employment, continuing professional development (CPD), further education, additional academic degrees, and work-related satisfaction. In comparison to the analyses of the professional work fields of dietitians in 2010 (Buchholz et al. 2021), The profession and work fields of dietitians in Germany (ernaehrungs-umschau.de) such as patient-centered actions (tailored nutrition counselling) among others, have grown from 85% in 2010 to 89% in 2020, while activities in the field of food service have decreased. In contrast to the increased percentage of nutrition therapy in outpatient setting, the majority (63%) of dietitians still work in hospitals or clinics in full or part-time. Only 10% of the participants of the survey work as freelance dietitian, while 12% work as full-time employees and 17% part-time employees, work as part time freelancer. The survey showed that about 56% of the participants invested about 20h/year on CPD and 27% more than 30h/year. Sixty six percent (66%) of the dietitians are holders of at least, one certified further education or further academic degree. 85% of the participants were satisfied with their professional and working conditions. Work experience and the number of competed hours of further education correlates positively with job satisfaction. The English version of the peer reviewed article is available online under DOI: 10.4455/EU2020.058.
The results of the survey have been handed over to the Ministry of Health by the German Association of Dietitians (VDD). The result of the survey supports arguments towards policy makers and stakeholders to adapt future education of dietitians to the needs of the changing work environment. The Ministry of Health has signaled to push forward the revision of the Professional laws of the so called “therapeutic health professions” but has been slowed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
German Association of Dietitians